|Publication number||US7247101 B2|
|Application number||US 10/365,316|
|Publication date||Jul 24, 2007|
|Filing date||Feb 12, 2003|
|Priority date||Feb 12, 2003|
|Also published as||US20040157671|
|Publication number||10365316, 365316, US 7247101 B2, US 7247101B2, US-B2-7247101, US7247101 B2, US7247101B2|
|Inventors||David L. Maurer|
|Original Assignee||Maurer David L|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (25), Referenced by (3), Classifications (5), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The invention relates, in general, to a mechanism mountable on a billiard table or other structure for providing information. In particular, the invention relates to a mechanism that acquires data from the billiard table as to accuracy of a billiard ball impacting a raised cushion railing of the billiard table. More particularly, the invention relates to an instant feedback system indicating to the billiard player as to the accuracy of a billiard ball impacting the raised cushion railing of the billiard table.
Billiards referred to herein encompasses a plurality of different games, such as, but not limited to, three ball, eight ball, nine ball, Snooker or any other type of game played on a rectangular or other geometric shaped cloth-covered table with raised cushioned edges, in which a cue is used to hit a hard ball (cue ball) against another ball or the side cushions of the table.
The game of billiards is continuing to grow in popularity. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association's January 2002 State of the Industry Report, there were 37.5 million players in the U.S. alone. Approximately 7% of those are “devoted” players (playing more than twice per week). Almost all of these players have a desire to improve their game. Billiards is a game of skill and accuracy. In addition to understanding the basics of the game and the geometry of the shots, players must also develop the skill to shoot well with the proper amount of force, correct aim and English. English is defined as the spin given to a ball by striking it on one side or releasing it with a sharp twist.
Developing the correct aim is a daunting task for the causal and avid players of billiards. There are many factors to consider in aligning the cue with the cue ball and an intended target. The intended target may be another ball or one or more of the raised cushioned rails that enclose the billiard table. Further, the player must consider the distance to the intended target and their own skill level in executing the shot. Unfortunately, many factors can affect a shot and if the player's shot is unsuccessful, he is left wondering what went wrong. Did he miss his desired target point? Was his desired target point in error? Was there too much (or too little) English? Indeed, even if the player makes his shot, aim could have still been off slightly but not enough to cause a missed shot.
It would be desirable for the causal or avid billiard player to receive instant feedback as to the accuracy of his shot. The feedback would enable the player to improve his skill level by providing immediate information as to where the cue ball struck the intended target, i.e., another ball or one or more of the raised cushioned rails that enclose the billiard table, thus allowing the player to make appropriate corrective actions on subsequent shots.
The present invention is a billiards practice device or monitoring device. The present invention may, if desired, be positioned along one of the rails of the billiard table. The present invention comprises at least one infrared emitter and a pair of infrared sensors. The infrared emitter is focused outwardly across the top surface of the billiard table. The infrared sensors are selectively positioned in such a manner as to receive reflected infrared signals from an object, i.e., the cue ball at or near the rail of the billiard table. In combination, the infrared emitter and sensors form a field-of-view that extends from the railing of the billiard table to a select distance disposed on the top surface of the billiard table. Once the cue ball enters the field-of-view, it reflects the infrared signal impinging on its surface. The reflected infrared signals positionally denote the cue ball in relation to the railing and the infrared sensors, i.e., the infrared signals represent data that is captured by the infrared sensors, interpreted and processed by the present invention.
The present invention includes a controller disposed within the monitoring device. The controller has a program stored in memory that commands and controls the operational features of the present invention. The controller receives, interprets and processes the data. Based on the interpretation of the processed data the controller directs at least one indicator disposed on the monitoring device to notify the billiard player whether the intended shot was on target as planned, i.e., directly aligned with the infrared emitter or if it was spaced to the left or to the right of the infrared emitter.
When taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and the appended claims, other features and advantages of the present invention become apparent upon reading the following detailed description of embodiments of the invention.
The invention is illustrated in the drawings in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the figures of which:
One embodiment of the present invention as shown in
The device 10 is preferably positioned along one of the raised cushioned edges 12. Preferably, the device 10 is positioned along one of the short sides of the rectangular cloth-covered table. The device 10 may, if desired, be enclosed in any type of housing 13 that enables the device 10 to be positioned on any of the raised cushioned edges 12 of the rectangular cloth-covered table. The housing 13 has a front wall 14. The front wall 14 faces in the direction of the top surface of the rectangular cloth-covered table. An infrared emitter 16 is positioned along the front wall 14 of the housing 13. Any position may be selected for the placement of the infrared emitter 16 on the front wall 14. A pair of infrared sensors 17 and 18 are selectively positioned about the infrared emitter 16. The pair of infrared sensors 17 and 18 are selectively positioned with respect to the infrared emitter 16 to enable a desired field-of-view adjacently spaced from the raised cushioned edges 12. For example, the device 10 is positioned with a field-of-view coinciding or contiguous with the raised cushioned edges 12. The sensors 17 and 18 in concert with the infrared emitter 16 construct the focal point at the edge of the raised cushion 12. If desired, the device 10 field-of-view may be extended to any convenient point on the rectangular cloth-covered table by selectively spacing the infrared sensors 17 and 18 with respect to the infrared emitter 16 to have the focal point of the field-of-view converge at a desired point on the table.
During a practice session, the billiard player strikes or hits the cue ball 11 with the intent of the cue ball 11 striking the raised cushioned 12 at a point aligned with the infrared emitter 16. When the cue ball 11 enters the field-of-view of the device 10, the infrared signal impinging the surface of the cue ball 11 is reflected towards the infrared sensors 17 and 18. The received infrared signal is interpreted and processed by the device 10. The device 10 has at least one indicator mounted onto the rectangular housing 13. The device 10 directs the indicator to notify the billiard player whether the intended shot was on target as planed, i.e., directly aligned with the infrared emitter 16 or if it was spaced to the left or to the right of the infrared emitter 16.
The housing 13 may if desired, be substantially rectangular or any or other convenient geometric shape. The housing 13 has a front wall 14, a rear wall 15, a top wall 24 and bottom wall 25 (not shown) forming the enclosure for the device 10. The housing 13 may, if desired, be fabricated from any convenient material. Examples of convenient materials are metal, wood, plastic, ceramic, composite, a polymer or mixtures or composites of the foregoing. The bottom wall 25 engages the raised cushioned edges 12 of the rectangular cloth-covered table. The bottom wall 25 may, if desired, be affixed to the raised cushioned edges 12 by any convenient means, such as, but not limited to, double sided adhesive tape, hook and loop fastener or sufficient weight added to the housing 13 to secure it in a selected position along the raised cushioned edges 12.
Infrared emitter 16 and infrared sensors 17 and 18 are mounted inside housing 13 along front wall 14. Front wall 14 is fabricated from a material that is transparent to infrared light that is emitted by infrared emitter 16. The indicator may, if desired, be a series of lights 19, 20 and 21 mounted onto the top wall 24. The light 20 indicates the intended shot was on target as depicted in
The intelligence for commanding and controlling the device 10 resides in a microcontroller 27, as shown in
Any convenient microcontroller that enables the device 10, as shown in
The controlling program stored in the microcontroller 27 memory has as its fundamental premise the comparing of ambient light to the reflected light from within the field-of-view of the device 10. The device 10 is initialized 40, as shown in
Upon Timer Interrupt, the device 10 is commanded 41 to acquire data from the field-of-view of the infrared sensors 17 and 18. The acquired data comprises two sets of readings from each sensor (a total of four readings). The readings are compared to determine if the cue ball 11 is in the field-of-view of the infrared sensors 17 and 18. The first pair of readings is performed with infrared emitter 16 turned off and the infrared sensors 17 and 18 receiving data. The data received by the infrared sensors 17 and 18 represents the ambient light level in the area adjacent to the field-of-view. The second pair of readings is performed with the infrared emitter 16 turned on. If the cue ball 11 is within the field-of-view of the infrared sensors 17 and 18 the second reading data increases significantly. By comparing the amplitudes of the increase, the program may determine where the cue ball 11 engaged the raised cushioned edge 12. If the data obtained from the infrared sensors 17 and 18 is of equal magnitude or within a band defined by the sensitivity control 38, the shot is considered to be on target. The indicator 20 may, if desired, be illuminated and the audible tone generator 36 may be activated. If the data obtained from the infrared sensors 17 and 18 is of unequal magnitude, the program determines if the shot is to the right or the left of the center and commands the appropriate indicator 19 or 21 to be activated. The activation may, if desired, be the same or different from the on target indicator 20.
Although only a few exemplary embodiments of this invention have been described in detail above, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention as defined in the following claims. Means-plus-function clause is intended to cover the structures described herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. All patents, applications and publications mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety.
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|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
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|U.S. Classification||473/17, 473/2|
|Jan 17, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 6, 2015||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jul 24, 2015||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Sep 15, 2015||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20150724